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Rafael Nadal withdrew with an abdominal injury. Denis Shapovalov advances to the final with a WO.
 
Just a minutes before he was due to take to the court against Denis Shapovalov in the RPM semi-finals, a dejected Rafa Nadal announced that he was not fit to play. He had pulled an abdominal muscle in his morning warm-up and after discussing every possibility with the doctors, he had decided to pull out. To play on would only risk further injury.
 
“Today, in the morning, I had been practicing well,” Nadal said. “And in one of the last serves of the warm-up, I felt something in the abdominal. And immediately I came back to the doctor here to do the echography and to check with the doctor, and the doctor told me that we need to wait a little bit more.

“So I waited for one hour and a half more to do a second test. And we did it, we saw something on the image, probably a small strain. And then I tried to come back on court to practice again and to see how the things are going with my serve, but I still feeling the pain there.

“So playing is difficult today for different reasons. For the first reason, because I think that abdominal don't allow me to serve at the level that I need to serve to be competitive. And second thing because when there is a strain in a muscle that is making a lot of effort in every single serve, so the chance to increase that problem is big.”
 
He spoke from grim experience. At the US Open in 2009, the same thing happened but back then, he thought he could play through the pain. He ended up paying a heavy price for his decision.


 
“I started the tournament with, if I remember, around 6, 7, millimeters of strain and I keep playing, I keep playing,” he explained. “And that was the year that I lost the semi-finals against Del Potro. So I finished the tournament with 28-millimeter strain, so have been a big, big thing after that. I remember well because I couldn't play semi-finals of Davis Cup that was against Israel in that moment.

“So for me, it took almost a month outside of the tennis court, so we don't want to repeat that.”
 
Regardless of who wins the title on Sunday, Nadal will start next week as the new world No.1. But if Novak Djokovic lifts the trophy, he will be just 640 points behind Nadal as they head into the ATP Finals in London. And there are, potentially, 1,500 points on offer to the champion at the O2 Arena. First, though, Nadal has to try and get himself fit enough to play in London.
 
“I go back home,” Nadal said. “I have to do what I have to do to check everything right. Not today. Not tomorrow. It needs to wait a couple of hours, as I say before, to be sure and to have a clear image [on the scan].

“Because on an injury on a muscle injury, the first few hours are so difficult to see because it's liquid there and it's difficult to see exactly how big is the issue. So need to wait this period of time to have a clear idea about what's going on.

“I really hope it's nothing too big, and the doctors believe that it's nothing too big. But, of course, if it's big enough to not be 100 per cent recovered for in one week, it's a chance. Hopefully is less than this.
 
“I hope to be ready for London. That's the biggest goal now. But as I say before, I can't guarantee anything because just happened today.”

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